What Makes a Great Attendee Experience?

A great attendee experience starts long before the event begins. It’s all about delivering a seamless, personalized event experience. More than that, it’s about gathering data on attendees that can be used to personalize their experience and gain greater insights. The level of engagement is determined by convenience, personalization, networking, attendee data capture, and appointment scheduling. First, let’s dive into convenience.

Make the Event as Convenient as Possible

The event experience should be seamless and engaging for your attendees. Events are stressful. Attendees have to travel, take time out of the office, and go to an unfamiliar place to attend your event. Make it easy. Ideally, attendees won’t have to worry about anything onsite. When the experience is flawless, they can focus on the actual event. Delivering a “frictionless” onsite experience will help your organization build a successful, profitable meetings and events program. Ultimately, this successful program will justify the event line item in your organization’s budget.

How to Succeed

  • Technology supports and enhances the attendee experience from check-in to departure.
  • Utilize on-demand badge printing.
  • Use mobile event apps to increase engagement and communication.

Personalization

Attendees are increasingly demanding more personalized event experiences. They don’t want the same cookie cutter experience. Nowadays, they have a lot of event options to choose from. More importantly, their budgets are still limited. The expectation for personal relevance has drastically increased. You need to harness the ability to connect individual attendees to content that is professionally relevant. Additionally, the event should provide them with growth opportunities and unique moments. Personalization will make your events “must-attend” year after year.

How to Succeed

  • Have dynamic, real-time agenda suggestions made based on attendee interests.
  • Use first or last names in email marketing campaigns.

Networking

Events are all about networking. How else would attendees make key connections? Build in networking opportunities. Give attendees a chance to network with the right people. Better yet, help them to network with the right people. Use mobile event apps and appointments to set up meetings that matter. Carve out time for them to make connections. Finally, provide them with the tools they need to identify the right people to connect with. Networking with industry peers and like-minded individuals is one of the main reasons attendees come to your events. You have to carve out time for them to make new connections. Also, you should provide the tools that allow them to identify the right people to connect with.

How to Succeed

  • Use a recommendation engine to facilitate highly relevant introductions.
  • Use a mobile event app to house attendee bios and provide chat functionality.
  • Structure specific networking sessions and round-tables based on like interests.

Attendee Data Capture

Your attendees are telling you a lot about their interests in the data they leave behind. Are you listening? From information provided during the registration process to the sessions attended and booths visited there is endless data available to you. Capturing this data does a few things. First, it provides your sales and marketing teams with more relevant, targeted follow-up opportunities. Second, it helps you improve future events. The ability to capture an attendees’ “physical footprint,” or their onsite activities, has become vital to event success.

How to Succeed

  • Digitally capture the attendee journey and analyze data and buying signals.
    • Booth visits
    • Sessions attended
    • Ratings
    • And more!

Appointment Scheduling

Given the level of investment in most event programs, once your team is onsite, every appointment counts. Surprisingly, some organizations still leave appointment setting to chance, hoping that the right connections will be made in the chaos of the show floor. Increasingly, event professionals are deploying appointment setting tools that give your team visibility into who will be there, let them see availability, and schedule meetings. In some cases, these tools extend across all the meetings you attend.

How to Succeed

  • Scheduling and communication tools are integrated with onsite lead capture tools.
  • Have an easy to use appointment setting tool.
  • Incentivize attendees to set appointments.

Conclusion

Attendee experience isn’t the only thing that ensures a successful events program, but it’s an important piece of the overall puzzle. Attendees make an event what it is. Give them the attention they deserve. Finally, use the right tools. Event technology makes personalization and engagement easier than ever before. If you’re still laying out badges on tables, you’re behind the times. Think about the event from the attendee’s perspective. After all, without attendees, there would be no event. A great attendee experience will take your events program to the next level.

Want to know how to create a great events program? Check out How to Evaluate Your Events Program. Or, find out How to Measure and Optimize Your Events Program.


Madison Layman

Written by Madison Layman

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents. Since then, my word count has hit the millions and won't stop growing anytime soon. When I'm not writing or reading, you can find me binge-watching tv shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorizing pop culture facts.